Is change safe

February 7th, 2019

We do expect new research from all the sciences to generate change in the concepts promoted by them.  The human story is that experience has taught us to be cautious because the same researchers often counter, compete  and change their bearings.  Scientific facts and constants today are just most probable and outcomes are predictable ranges (no absolutes).  Let’s look at some examples other than the obvious gaps in technological sophistication where basic sensibilities deviate over time.

Bathing was very uncommon for folks in America and Europe up until the mid- nineteenth century.  Again, our shared story to justify was that baths and clean water were not available.  But in fact, the issue was not lack of plumbing but the prevailing idea that submerging the body in water was a distinctly unhealthy and even dangerous thing to do.  Clogging one’s pores with oil and dirt allegedly protected you from disease.  A body odor was a sign of a healthy hard working person.  The very rich and royalty might bother to take a bath once a month if they were a clean freak.

The virtues of washing oneself were not self-evident to our ancestors just a few generations past.  Social reform spurred this change in the nineteenth century and soap didn’t come into the picture until the twentieth century— endorsed commercially through advertising.  Today anti-bacterial hand cleaners are encouraged and presented as a free service at the entrance to many businesses.  And this prevails even though science and research tells us not to use the stuff.  We are such social creatures that often norms force choice over wisdom.

Johnathan Haidt, a current writer on today’s cultural changes, points out our human roots as tribal people.  Research also indicates that we all seem to have limits in our circle of influence—a number of personal interactive friends.  The people may change but the number is somewhat consistent.  And “safetyism” is a growing trend where our youth today don’t feel safe or are easily intimidated.  Being raised in front of a television with mostly abstracted communication via internet and phones with peers did not afford them the opportunity to secure an intuitive sense, from real interactive experiences of feeling safe.

In the past we have blamed intuition for producing a false sense of feeling safe. This learned sensation is based on action that occurred in a past similar event.  But no two events are ever exactly the same and less so today as change quickens.  I advocate the wisdom of living life out of trance more of the time; be present for the experience of life and make decisions.  A sense of power is derived from making decisions and not being right.  And yes, we have to deal with the consequences of those decisions, conscious or not.


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